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£18.5 million to boost diversity in AI tech roles

THE TECHNOLOGY sector is set to benefit from a £18.5 million cash injection to drive up skills in AI and data science and support more adults to upskill and retrain to progress in their careers or find new employment.

Up to 2,500 people will have the opportunity to retrain and become experts in data science and artificial intelligence (AI), thanks to a £13.5 million investment to fund new degree and Masters conversion courses and scholarships at UK academic institutions over the next three years.

£5 million is also being invested to encourage technology companies to develop cutting-edge solutions, utilising AI and automation, to improve the quality of online learning for adults.

The ground-breaking Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, which will be launched in partnership with innovation foundation Nesta, will provide funding and expertise to incentivise tech firms to harness new technologies to develop bespoke, flexible, inclusive, and engaging online training opportunities to support more people into skilled employment.

Companies across the tech sector already employ more than 2.1 million people, contribute £184 billion to the economy every year and inward investment to the UK AI sector stood at £1bn for 2018, which is more than Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland combined.

To further strengthen the sector, Government is investing in data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence, through the modern Industrial Strategy, so tech businesses and people with the drive and talent can succeed.

Speaking ahead of his speech at CogX, the Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “The UK has a long standing reputation for innovation, world-leading academic institutions and a business friendly environment and everyone, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to build a successful career in our world-leading tech sector.

“Through these new AI and Data Conversion courses and our modern Industrial Strategy, we are committed to working with the tech sector and academia to develop and maintain the best AI workforce in the world.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “UK firms continue to build on our heritage as the home of Artificial Intelligence, and through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re investing in that strength to ensure we remain world-leaders in the field and at the very forefront of the latest technologies.

“These new retraining opportunities and scholarships will ensure people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to move into new and exciting careers, and to shape this innovative industry for years to come.”
On the launch of the new Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

“Artificial Intelligence and other new technologies are transforming the way we live and work and have the potential to radically improve online learning and training, so more people can get the skills they need.

“We all have busy lives, juggling work and family commitments so online courses are a great way for‎ more people to retrain or upskill and secure a rewarding career. Investing in cutting edge technologies such as AI will mean we can future proof the online learning experience and ensure it better meets students’ needs.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for technology firms to work with Government to put their ideas into action to help develop pioneering online training opportunities for adults.”

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